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Comment: Re:Not even much money (Score 1) 401

by Obfuscant (#46761519) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

I also don't doubt that there are times when 3rd parties are served or even well served by the outcomes of such lobbying.

So lobbying can have good outcomes.

But these things ought not be decided based on who has money and who doesn't. I am all for impacts being analyzed and plans being made to make sure people are not unduly disrupted, but decisions should be made on merit.

It is difficult to separate the feelings that someone bought a result you don't like from an objective analysis of whether what you wanted them to do was rejected after an analysis of the issues. In this case, a "tell me how much I owe" version of federal taxes -- I seem to recall that there was such a system in place many years ago (1970's?) where the taxpayer would send in a form saying "tell me what you want" and the IRS did. I don't hear much about that anymore, so I suspect that it died, and why it died may give a clue to why it wasn't a good idea to bring it back. I don't know.

We should not allow buggy whip manufactures to be able to lobby to ensure their livelihood.

Why not? If you grant that there are sometimes good outcomes from lobbying, just how do you write this new law prohibiting buggy whip makers while still allowing the useful lobbying?

What SHOULD be the rule is that decisions are made based on merit, and anyone who wants to lobby should have the right to make that speech.

Comment: Re:Not even much money (Score 3, Informative) 401

by Obfuscant (#46759473) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Let's face it, there are a lot of people employed as accountants and I guess nowadays, a fair amount of software developers and business.

The people who this simplified "let the government figure it out and send back what they think I deserve" plan wouldn't apply to the vast majority of people who use accountants or probably even most of those who use TurboTax. They're using an accountant because they want every penny back that they deserve. Yes, I said deserve -- the legal amount.

There are already several free tax filing systems. TaxACT Online, H&R Block, The IRS, and even TurboTAX, the very company that is being slammed for allegedly standing in the way of free tax filing. If you are a die-hard, you can download the forms and send them in for the price of a stamp or two (my state forms, seven pages of paper, cost $0.70 to mail.)

Comment: Re:Drop stones in a circle (Score 1) 306

Trace a circle on the ground and drop stones at it.

1. Trace a circle on the ground, measure the circumference and the diameter and divide.

2. Trace a circle on a square of paper, making sure it touches all four edges. Weigh the paper. Cut out the circle, weigh the circle. Do the math.

3. Put a valuable piece of difficult to manufacture metal on a post and shoot valuable rounds of ammunition you may need to save your life at it.

4. Read the Bible. The number there, correct to one significant figure, is probably close enough for anything you're doing in a post-apocalyptic time anyway. If it isn't, remember 22/7.

Comment: Re:Fill your head with crap (Score 1) 163

by Obfuscant (#46749855) Attached to: The Best Parking Apps You've Never Heard Of and Why You Haven't

I think the more important issue is the general inefficiency in the marketplace for apps

If that was the important issue then you should have led with that and used the parking app issue as support for whatever conclusion you wanted to come to, instead of droning on and on and on about how nobody knows about parking apps for Seattle and how bad some of them are and how you think people on some survey website are your friends, and only then writing a tiny bit about "the more important issue".

By the way, you keep talking about parking apps finding garages, but you don't consider "is there a space there", and you repeatedly say that garages are important only if "it's hard to find on-street". You don't know the on-street is filled until you get there and the time you save going straight to a garage instead of wandering the street looking for cheaper parking is worth something. And if the garage you pin your hopes on doesn't have any open spaces, you're screwed anyway.

Comment: Re:This is how America ceases to be great (Score 1) 133

How on EARTH is "donating" money to politicians ANYTHING to do with free speech?!

"I like what you said and I want to help you say it to more people that you otherwise wouldn't be able to." It's akin to the idea that setting aside "free speech zones" is a bad idea because it tries to limit the amount of "free" speech someone has based on his ability to get to and stay in that zone.

But the problem is that the issue is much larger than just giving money to a candidate. CU wasn't about giving money to a candidate.

My god people: wake the fuck up. This is nothing more than legalised corruption. Plain and simple.

Is it your opinion that anything anyone says to support a candidate for election is also "legalized corruption, plain and simple"? I mean, if I make a public statement in support of, say, Ron Wyden, mightn't Ron Wyden feel compelled to act in a way I want him to? I've not given him any money, but I've perhaps helped sway some undecided voters his way and he gets to keep his posh office, public servant salary, numerous other perks, and position of power. Doesn't he owe me something for that? Don't you expect him to pay back the debt? So shouldn't I be prohibited from speaking in support of him? He MIGHT do something good for me in return.

And then, what if I donate a lot of my time to his campaign. Say I RUN his campaign. Mightn't he feel some reason to do good things for me after I've helped get him reelected? Should I be prohibited from working on his campaign because of that? Shouldn't EVERYONE be prohibited from working on his campaign? (Raum Emmanuel got a lot of perks back for running a certain politician's campaign, you know.)

The idea that anything that anyone does to help someone get elected to public office is "legalized corruption" is pretty silly, and yet the same fears over potential corruption exist. The solution to this "legalized corruption" is to prohibit all such potential, which is also a pretty silly (and patently unconstitutional) restriction.

The fact that you don't see how money is required for effective speech doesn't change that fact.

Comment: Re:This is how America ceases to be great (Score 1) 133

A distinction without much distinction.

An important distinction not because of the final effect but because of the difference between trying to claim that money is equivalent to speech and the truth that money is necessary for whatever speech is being made. "I spent $1000" says nothing of any meaning. "I believe X" and spending $1000 for airtime does. That is the difference.

But you're right on one part: banning money mean you effectively ban the speech. Because the former is a requirement for the latter, banning the former effectively bans the latter, whether you understand the difference between "requirement" and "equivalence" or not.

No, telling people that there are no limits on what they can spend to buy an election creates a huge group of people without voice. I'm really not sure how you cant see that.

I can't see that because it isn't true. First of all, you have a very cynical view of the voter. How does my spending $1000 to say "I believe X" "buy" an election? It doesn't. People who don't agree can vote 'no'. People who do can vote 'yes'. My speech doesn't profit them either way, they've gotten nothing from me in exchange for their vote.

Second, my spending $1000 to say "I believe X" doesn't in any way stop you from spending your $1000 to say "X is wrong". It doesn't silence you. Now, you may not have $1000, but your lack of money isn't a result of my spending $1000, you'd not have the money whether I spent that $1000 or not. My speech isn't silencing you, it's your own lack of a way to pay for your own speech that does that. I'd suggest in that case you band together with others of like mind and pool your limited resources to pay for your speech, but you seem opposed to that solution.

I have sympathy for the concept of "its mine, I should be able to use it as I like", but there comes a time when "using it as I like" injures others, and that ought not be allowed.

Clearly, if I say something you agree with you have suffered no injury at all, so you can't claim that the simple act of speech is what created the injury, it has to be the content of that speech. "I don't like what you say" isn't sufficient grounds to claim that you've been injured by my speech. You not being able to buy your own airtime to rebut my statements isn't sufficient grounds to claim that you've been injured by my speech, because it reverts to "I don't like what you say so when you say it I'm injured".

Ending the treatment of speech = money

Speech is not equivalent to money. Money is not equivalent to speech. If it were, the hefty sum in my IRA would be making some kind of statement, and it isn't. You can't end what doesn't exist.

It would end the "I'm powerful because I have lots of money, so you have to listen to me

You know what I do when I hear an ad from a "powerful" person I don't agree with? I turn it off. I don't have to listen to him. He's got no gun held to my head.

and run your campaign ( quietly, so the election boards don't see it ) as I like".

You've missed the point that people who spend the money on ads for candidates don't have to tell the candidate how to run their campaign, they simply buy the ads and say what they want. I've linked to two references that talk about the unions and special interests who dumped huge amounts of money into ads for their pet candidate (Teamsters, Sierra Club, and Ron Wyden), running horribly negative ads (accusing his opponent of murder, for one thing) and how did Wyden solve this negative campaign problem? "I don't control them". That's it. He didn't have to run his campaign their way, they ran their own campaign for him. And NOBODY ever said "this is bad, they shouldn't be allowed to spend their money that way."

Corporations are made of people who have rights. And those people already have sufficient ( and for some, more than sufficient ) voice.

CU was a case of a corporation of people who have rights who did not individually have "sufficient voice", so they created the corporation to pool their money. Because it was an ad against a popular liberal candidate, that became a problem and there were attempts to silence them. You're supporting that continued attempt to silence people who have rights to free speech, using your own right to free speech while doing so. Just as the Move To Amend group has formed to pool their money for more effective speech trying to strip that same right from others.

There is absolutely, positively no need for corporations to add in this mix.

So you're saying they don't have the right to free speech, even though you've just admitted that they are composed of people who, you claim, do have rights. Do you also feel this way about unions and groups like the Sierra Club? Do the people who send a $10 check to SC lose their right to free speech, too? Do they already have "sufficient" speech? By creating the concept of people having "enough speech" you show that you respect neither the concept of "right" nor "free", and that, indeed, some people need to be silenced.

Comment: Re:This is how America ceases to be great (Score 1) 133

Anon because I modded you as above.

Having your cake and eating it too.

Paying the bill: there are other ways.

No, there are no other ways. It costs money to run radio ads. It costs money to run a website. It costs money to run print ads. SOMEONE has to pay for that. There is no other way.

If you say that the wealthy and corporations will not participate in equal election funding, then answer why they wont.

If I say what? That if you prohibit the use of money to pay for effective speech the rich won't be able to participate in speech? That should be obvious. If the poor cannot buy airtime because they don't individually have the money and you prohibit them from forming groups (like CU) with the intention of pooling their money, and you prohibit the rich from using their own money to buy airtime, then yes, you've silenced both groups. You haven't made it easier for the poor to speak.

Or that silencing people you don't like isn't the solution to people you do like not being able to pay for their speech? That should be obvious, too. But I don't know what this "participate in equal election funding" nonsense is, or how it is supposed to remove the requirement for money to have effective speech from the system.

Requirement to have money to have speech: see above, and why does it *have* to be that way?

I love "see above" arguments, because they are so meaningless. What "above" shows that money isn't necessary for effective speech? Nothing. You simply declare "there are other ways" and don't quite get around to saying how you'd cover the costs of the speech. It has to be that way because newpapers and TV stations and websites don't get free electricity and newsprint and servers, and the people who run those media don't all donate their time.

Bribery and graft: Those laws are not really working and the wealthy are working hard to dilute them further, ( Citizens United, the recent ruling on overall contribution limits ).

What utter and complete nonsense. CU wasn't about bribery or graft or anything in furtherance of either. CU was about a corporation that was CREATED FOR THE EXPLICIT PURPOSE OF BUYING AIRTIME FOR A MOVIE still being allowed to buy that airtime because the people who made up that corporation HAVE THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH. Just as the Sierra Club has the right to dump $200,000 into a campaign against a conservative. And the Teamster's Union spent their member's money on a hatchet job on the same candidate:

However, the special Senate election took an interesting turn a few weeks before election day A union group ran a radio ad that accused Smith of murder ...

Now, maybe you were vocally opposed to that use of money, too, but I don't know many people who were. Wyden slid out from the mess by claiming the people who were spending money on his behalf weren't under his control. Apparently Ron Wyden doesn't think money is corrupting or buys influence because he relies on it for his campaigns.

For someone who is so adamant that silencing people is bad you seem very in favor of policies that do exactly that.

Nonsense. CU being allowed to buy airtime for a movie is hardly how one silences anyone. It means that more people can speak because more people can join with others to pay for that speech. A movie that shows Hillary Clinton in a bad light doesn't stop you from buying an ad that shows her to be the Next Coming of the Messiah.

That's the real way to counter that speech that you are so opposed to. Not silencing people because you don't like what they say or how they pay for the media to say it. Making your own speech and banding together with others of like mind to make your single voice more effective.

But the one fact remains: it costs money to have effective speech in these modern times. There is no way around that. Someone has to pay for it.

Comment: Re:The earth IS at the center... (Score 1) 639

When you talk about the distance between two astronomical objects are you referring center-to-center or surface-to-surface? When one calculates the other gravitational effects does one use the surface-to-surface distance or center-to-center? When one talks about one object revolving about another (a result of gravitation) the implication is that the centers are the reference point because that's what the calculations use.

If we can arbitrarily assign the point about which objects revolve, then it is just as true that the Sun revolves around the Earth as the opposite. You just need to pick the right rotational coordinate system.

Comment: Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (Score 1) 133

Lost public opinion? Maybe on /. but not to most of the voting public.

This. Most of the voting public looks out into the world and sees that they have only one choice for cable, whether that's Comcast or Time Warner or something else. They realize that a TW/Comcast merger will leave them with exactly the same one choice, maybe with a different name is all ("Timecast"? "Comner"? "Timefinity"?). In this case, one plus one really does equal one. Where's the reduced competition? Same choice before, same choice after.

And costs going up? That's going to happen whether the merger happens or not.

No, there's just not much there for the voting public to latch onto as a serious issue.

Comment: Re:This is how America ceases to be great (Score 1) 133

In this country (the US), yes I'll give you that, but it shouldn't be that way. They've gamed the system so that the more money you have, the more speech you have, but it's a rigged system.

This "gaming" of the system is called "someone has to pay the bill". Neither print, online, nor broadcast media are free of cost.

I'm saying that inherently money != free speech,

Yes, we've already dealt with the concept that money isn't equivalent to free speech, but that it is a requirement to have it.

then we could talk sensibly about limiting its corrupting influence.

There are already laws dealing with bribery and graft. I suspect that since you are talking about "corrupting influence" in the same article that talks about money being necessary for effective free speech that you want to limit the money spent on free speech. That means you do think that the solution to some people not having money to pay for effective speech is to silence those who do.

Okay, I'll go vote for asshole 'A' or asshole 'B'. Those are my realistic choices. Not much of a choice there, and the billions floating around in politics ensures that will always be the case.

No, it is not the money that limits the number of candidates, it is the system. Both the two party system that results in one candidate from each, and the political environment where good people want to have nothing to do with the mudpit they'd find themselves in. Solving the former would be, well, pretty difficult. No party is going to dilute their own constituency voluntarily by putting up more than one candidate. Solving the latter? That's not going to happen soon, and silencing people you don't agree with won't solve it.

The answer would be viable candidates from other parties. Where are they? Well, they have the same sense of self-preservation that keeps good people off of the tickets for the major parties. And they have, apparently, insufficient message to draw significant voters. Would more money mean a better message? No, it would just mean more repetition of the same message that already doesn't draw voters.

Comment: Re:This is how America ceases to be great (Score 2, Informative) 133

and that there are a lot of people that have no voice at all.

The reason those people have "no voice at all" is because ... they don't have the money to pay for it. That really does make the point that money is required for the full exercise of free speech. The days of standing on a soapbox on a street corner and reaching a significant number of people with one's speech are long gone.

Money should not be equivalent to free speech. Never.

Then it is a good thing that money isn't equivalent to free speech. Money is, however, as your own statements show, a requirement for full exercise of same. And by extension, telling people they cannot spend their money to pay for speech is equivalent to creating an even larger group of people who have no voice.

I realize that silencing opinions that one does not favor is a common goal these days, but removing the ability to exercise the right of free speech from more people isn't the solution.

As for your problem with that corporations are made up of people who still have rights, well, that's a topic for another day.

Comment: Re:Fuck Obamacare (Score 1) 720

by Obfuscant (#46718567) Attached to: Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?
Thank you for the condescending lecture on risk management and actuarial science, jandrese. So much really brand new and exciting information I've never ever ever thought about.

You're not paying your fair share, but still expect to be treated when you get sick or injured.

So, $12,000 for insurance to cover what cost $2000 to provide and I'm not only not paying my fair share, but I shouldn't expect to be treated when I get sick or injured. Thanks. Do you have a newsletter I can sign up for?

Just how many times expenses should everyone's health insurance cost so that you can get your treatments when you want them?

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